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The Odd Couple

The first essay I ever wrote for Ordinary Times was America 2017 is a Bad Marriage

Everyone hated it.

While I felt most of the criticism was of questionable value, one thing has stuck with me. One thing I was definitely wrong about. America isn’t a bad marriage.  Because a bad marriage starts off with love, at least.  A bad marriage starts with two people who at one point in time actually wanted to build a life together. They had affection and common ground, mutual goals and dreams and plans. It hurts so bad when a relationship turns toxic because you’ve invested so much love and time and energy only to have your hopes dashed. As it was pointed out to me then, and as I’ve slowly come to realize over the past 18 months, there is no love here in America 2018.

Liberals and conservatives really do hate each other. And maybe they always did. The affection I feel for both liberals and conservatives is an anomaly. So my analogy involving a loving partnership gone awry was probably a poor one.

The other day I happened across a marathon of The Odd Couple. Most of us are old enough to remember that show if only through reruns, but for anyone who isn’t, it’s a comedy about a couple of mismatched roommates. Felix is a neat freak, Oscar’s a slob, and they have to live together in the same small space. Hijinks ensue.

America 2018 is like The Odd Couple.

We don’t want to be here. Nobody wants to be here. We have nothing in common and we don’t even like each other. But due to circumstances beyond our control, here is where we find ourselves. Stuck together with both of our names on the lease. There’s a housing shortage in the city and this place is rent controlled. There’s a convention of traveling salesmen in town so even the fleabag motels are full. Short of a refrigerator box under a bridge, we have nowhere else to go. Now what? I can’t get away from you, you can’t get away from me. We have to inhabit the same space whether we want to or not. We share a kitchen, a bathroom, an Internet connection. I can’t go in my room and shut the door and you can’t go in your room and shut yours because there are too many places we have to coexist. There is only one front door. We can’t even leave without tolerating each other.

Sometimes I need a ride uptown and you have a car. Sometimes you lock yourself out and need my spare key. I need you not to eat my leftover pad thai I’m keeping in the fridge for lunch tomorrow and you need me not to play Skrillex really loud late at night when you have to work in the morning. We both want to have friends over and we need to work out a schedule so one of us doesn’t always get stuck scrubbing the toilet. Beyond peaceful coexistence, our lives are simply better when we work as a team.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to belabor the point. I described the principle better in my first essay and everything in it still applies not only to marriage but to any partnership, voluntary or otherwise. People who come together by choice have to set aside their differences to get life’s wrinkles ironed out, and those tossed together by circumstance have to set aside their differences even more so.

As I was watching The Odd Couple, something occurred that shocked me to my very core. It was like witnessing a historical event from another time and place. Something so foreign, so unimaginable, that it was like watching a unicorn give birth to a phoenix while a midwife from Atlantis watched over the proceedings.

Felix and Oscar got into an argument and they apologized, thought self-critically about what they’d done, freely accepted some of the blame, and made peace with each other.

It went something like this (I’ll paraphrase since I’m not too sure what episode I was watching – it involved a poker game but as I recall about 87% of Odd Couple episodes involve a poker game): Felix: “It was my fault, Oscar, I’m too neat, I’m an annoying fuddy-duddy, I’m a pain in the butt, I demand too much, I should be more laid back.” Oscar: “No, no, Pal, it was totally me, I’m a slob, I should be neater, I’m obnoxious and loud and I smell probably, I’m a lazy jerk, and I should have picked up my crap.” They argued back and forth like that for a while, and not because they were picking over the bones of what they were originally disagreeing about, looking for a nice juicy hunk of meat. They argued only because each of them kept trying to accept the lion’s share of the blame. This went on till they concluded they were mutually wrong.  They decided to set the whole kerfluffle aside and move forward with their lives and their friendship.

Seriously, what the actual eff?

Do people really DO that? I sort of have a vague recollection of people behaving reasonably once upon a childhood but it feels like a hallucination or maybe a fever dream. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a situation where both parties involved in a disagreement honestly looked at themselves, at their own behavior, at their own failings, and graciously accepted some of the blame. Without being forced into it by emotional blackmail or argued into submission using sophistry and/or verbal abuse, without any “agreeing to disagree” where everyone walks away still fuming.

I don’t think that’s a thing any more, at least not where politics are concerned (and doesn’t it seem like everything is politics these days?). I don’t think anyone bothers to look self-critically at their own behavior when they think they’re on the proper end of an argument. Did I say argument? I meant crusade. A lot of people seem pretty darn convinced they are on the side of the angels and destiny has foreseen that their worldview will win the day, every issue, every time. Because that’s how disagreement is framed, of course; winners and losers. Never two well-intentioned, good-hearted people who, due to differing thought processes and life experiences, happen to have drawn two separate conclusions about an issue, but as a battle laid out by the fates that can have only one outcome – the correct outcome. There is right and wrong, good and evil, progress and regress, white hats vs. black ones. There’s no safe haven that isn’t a battleground, no common space where we can live side by side and not be at each other’s throats.

In this climate – two sides at war and both of them convinced that they’re not only right, but are actually God’s/the universe’s Chosen People, where every issue you encounter, no matter how small or silly, looks like a fine spot for a skirmish – why expend valuable energy scrutinizing your own behavior? For surely all behavior, no matter how odious, no matter how divisive, is justified if this is Perpetual War and you are on the side of the angels! If Beloved Tribe has been sanctified by the Holy Forces of Righteousness, surely everything one does and says in its name, no matter how counterproductive or awful or mean-spirited, is justified in the name of the greater good. You may be just a lowly tribesman with a Twitter account, but you are on a sacred mission. You aren’t being an a-hole, heaven forfend! You’re giving witness, testifying your faith, proselytizing to the heathens.

Now, as you have probably already suspected, I happen to believe that in our Felix/Oscar dynamic, one of the parties is, at present, much more in the wrong than the other. I happen to believe that one side of our Odd Couple has given significant ground in the Culture Wars over the last 50 years. While very far from perfect, one side of our Odd Couple has admitted that they were mistaken about some things and has loosened up a lot, to the benefit of everyone. I also happen to believe that the other side of our Odd Couple has given up nothing and demands additional, ever-more extreme concessions with every passing day. They admit no blame, accept no guilt, show no remorse, preferring instead to play with Civil War Brand matches in a house made of gasoline-soaked straw.

But that doesn’t matter. Savage me in the comments if you will (and I know that you will) but believe it or not, it really doesn’t make a smidge of difference what I believe. I don’t expect anyone reading this to agree with my personal take on American history or modern society or anything at all, really. And I don’t have to agree with yours, either. Roommates don’t have to agree. We just gotta live together. Our philosophical beliefs, no matter how heartfelt, are irrelevant. Who is right and who is wrong is irrelevant. Who will win in the end is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter because none of us will ever change our mind any more than Felix will suddenly embrace chaos and bacteria or Oscar will become an acolyte of Marie Kondo. Our beliefs do not matter one iota, shut up about your beliefs for Pete’s sake, we all already know what each other is thinking. Saying what you think again louder and more vehemently does not accomplish anything.

How about instead, all of us taking a moment and looking at ourselves and our tribe. Self-critically. Not expressing for the umpteenth time the intricacies of what we believe and why — we’ve done that ad nauseum –but thinking about how we act towards others who don’t share our beliefs. Hold up that measuring stick and judge yourself using your own standards for civil behavior. Break out that dusty old Golden Rule. Think very long and hard about what you and your team have personally done to contribute to our nation becoming a shitshow and what you personally can do to make that better (you can’t control the team, I get that). Because I don’t find very many people are at present living up to their own criteria for what it means to live in a civil-yet-diverse society.

“But this isn’t about minor quibbles involving roommates,” you protest. “This is over things that MATTER!!” That’s right, it IS about things that matter, things that are life and death issues of critical importance and will affect people all around the world for generations to come and that is why civility matters even more so. We. have. got. to. get. along. Because if we don’t learn how, and soon, we will perish. We won’t need climate change or hordes of illegal immigrants to wipe us out; we’ll do it ourselves, and we’ll do it over freaking Star Wars.

Fact – if you don’t really understand why the other guys think they way they do, and when they try to tell you, you blatantly refuse to shoulder even the teensiest smidge of the blame and instead turn it around on them as yet another opportunity to tell them all the many reasons why they are wrong, stupid, and evil, the opportunity for finding consensus will forever be lost. Imagine if instead of being magnanimous and conciliatory, Felix and/or Oscar refused to let it go. They kept right on arguing.  Blamed everything on the other guy.  Calling him out on things that he didn’t even do, things people he was barely affiliated with did. Kept bringing up events that happened ten, twenty, a hundred years ago. What if Oscar and/or Felix twisted words and took things out of context and even stretched the truth to the breaking point in order to win? Would that argument have ended amicably, without resentment? Would the other guy have stepped up to shoulder his share of the blame or would he have said “Screw you” and further escalated the argument? What would YOU do if someone who was most decidedly not 100% right demanded you admit they were 100% right? Would that kind of behavior have been conducive to sharing the same tiny space?

We HAVE to live together. No choice. No option. We can live in peace or not. To live in peace, we have to make peace. There is nothing wrong with making peace. Peace is good, right? Wanting to set aside our differences and come together as a nation, as a people, is not a character flaw. We are going to tear ourselves apart if trying to make peace and build bridges even in the smallest of ways continues to be painted as weakness. Civility is not defeat nor is it surrender. Civility is a necessity when two people of wildly differing worldviews and values systems like Oscar and Felix have to coexist. A person is not a loser or a quisling if they choose to be gracious, even conciliatory, to someone with whom they vigorously disagree. A person is not caving or selling out by genuinely trying to understand where someone else is coming from. It’s something all of us should aspire to.

Y tho?? Why make peace at all? Why try to build consensus when it is sooooo blatantly obvious that my side/your side is in the right? Well, as good ol’ Dr. Phil says, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” I would take this even farther and say, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to survive as a culture?”

A friend of mine said once that no matter what we do or say (we meaning the relative moderates of all stripes who are the meager filling in the American Odd Couple sandwich), the two dominant American worldviews are not going away any time soon and we (meaning all of us) had better find a way to help the two sides coexist before we really do start fighting the World’s Stupidest Civil War aka the Seinfeld War: the War About Nothing. But I’m not sure we can until enough of us have an Odd Couple moment, stopping the blahdi-blahdi-blah not to lecture the other guy about all the many ways they’re in error or to mock or belittle or demonize them but to listen, actually listen to what they’re saying.  Not what you assume that they’re saying, but the actual words emanating from their vocal cords.  And to maybe, just maybe admit ok wow, you’re right, not about everything but about some things, me and mine do have some fault in all this, we haven’t been fair, I get it, here are the ways in which I see that I’m wrong, and I’ll do better in the future.

C’mon, you cannot really believe that you and yours are right all the time on everything and the other side never makes any valid points. Can you really truly believe that?

Things are not gonna improve and will most probably continue to get worse until at least some people – because as we all know, not everyone will rise to the occasion and there will be holdouts and wackadoos and extremists entrenched on both sides and the holdouts and wackadoos and extremists on their side do not justify bad behavior from everyone on yours – lay down their arms and say TO THE JERKS ON THEIR OWN SIDE “stop what you’re doing, this isn’t constructive, and what’s more, it’s wrong.” Not the jerks on the other side, the jerks on your OWN side, because waiting around to change until the other guy changes first is a recipe for no one ever changing.

Imagine if instead of taking any and every opportunity to rip each other new a-holes over our genuinely considered and closely held beliefs, we sat down and had a beer and like Felix and Oscar did, of our own free will took responsibility for the stuff our side has done wrong. We already know what our differences are, let’s quit droning on and on and on about those and discuss our similarities. And one of our similarities is that we’ve both screwed the pooch quite royally at times. Let’s start with both of us admitting that and see where our friendship goes. It worked for Oscar and Felix, maybe it will work for us too. Because shouting our beliefs back and forth into each other’s faces isn’t working. It’s time to start biting our tongues and talking about the weather instead.

Muggy, isn’t it?

We aren’t going to agree on everything. We don’t have to agree on, well, really anything, if we in good faith can’t. But accept those disagreements as being in good faith rather than this good vs. evil mindset we’ve fallen into where the other guy is some sort of monster or demon that must be despised. Because we have to live together or else we have to fight to the death and if we go down that road, folks, there ain’t no guarantee that your side, whatever that may be, will be the winning side. What’s more, there’s a pretty high probability that even IF your side is the winning side, the price we all pay for the misadventure will not be worth it. I envision a lot of cold, hungry people standing around campfires and scratching their MRSA-infected chilblains in the destroyed wilderness that was once America while wolves howl in the distance (no doubt attracted by the mounds of rotting corpses in the background), saying to each other with mouths full of teeth even more rotten than the mounds of corpses nearby, “Bruh, I sure do wish I could go back in time to when my biggest problem in life was what my cousin was posting about on Facebook and not, like wolves, and stuff?”

What we’re doing now is mutually assured destruction. We gotta make a better choice before it’s too late. It’s civilization, my peeps. Maintain it. Compromising may be required.  And golden, golden silence.

In other words, be a good roommate.

Photo by HotlantaVoyeur The Odd Couple


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Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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390 thoughts on “The Odd Couple

  1. Fact – if you don’t really understand why the other guys think they way they do, and when they try to tell you, you blatantly refuse to shoulder even the teensiest smidge of the blame and instead turn it around on them as yet another opportunity to tell them all the many reasons why they are wrong, stupid, and evil, the opportunity for finding consensus will forever be lost.

    This is your most critical statement. And its so buried under a lot of other really worthy prose. That’s what I’ll “savage” you for.

    Beyond that you are right. though I don’t detect you answering the question that flows from your statement I just quoted – what do you do when you are on the receiving end of that dismissal all the damn time? Where do you draw the line? When do you say that the other has lost all rights to engagement because they won’t recognize either their own faults or your humanity? How many times does one have to endure being called a “libtard” before one gets to throw the towel out the window?

    Aside from frequently being called those names and more, I am more often encountering one side’s unwillingness to even cop to my basic humanity. two examples – in a thread on a conservative friend’s facebook page last week about Dr. Blasey-Ford’s testimony, I asked what the friend and his fellow “I don’t believe her” commentors needed to see or hear to believe here. The very first response i got was “If I have to tell you that then maybe you are too stupid to comment.”

    Second example – in a discussion last year on police brutality to black males, I was told I “Hate the White race” because I believe the reporting (and my own raised in Louisiana, living in Mississippi eyes) and the statistics that say black men have more, and more negative interactions with cops then white men.

    I get the need for humble engagement. Its why I ask questions. But sometimes, enough is enough.

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    • That was the last thing I added, at the very last minute (for me anyway as it typically takes me months to write a piece) and was driven by some things I read in the comments here. You’re right, I should have left it out and it would have been a better piece if I had.

      You’re also right in that there is a minority of truly awful people who identify as conservatives and it’s unfortunate that a lot of those people seem to spend a good deal of time online. I will grant you that the awfulest group of people does exist under the conservative umbrella and I’d love nothing better than to wave a magic wand and get rid of them. At the same time, though, I do think that there is plenty of awful existing among the ranks of liberal folk these days and the thing that scares me is that I’m seeing that awfulness coming from people who are really quite mainstream, people who I like and love and who have always been eminently reasonable.

      Like I said in the piece, we can’t control for the wackadoos and extremists on either side, they’re always going to be there. It doesn’t justify bad behavior coming from those of us who are moderate “normie” types.

      Thanks for reading and the entirely accurate input – apologies for the admitted fail, there.

      Much appreciated.

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  2. I always love how in all these descriptions, race is never mentioned.

    The great realignment of our politics in the last 3 decades is that the political parties have built up to two pretty clear constellations of supporters: the GOP representative the dominant social ID’s of the last 4 centuries of experience on this continent (straight, white) vs the Dems building on everybody else who kept on clawing for some sort of political power throughout that time and was usually savagely beaten for it. Now, there are some strange groups throughout there (the college-educated whites who lean with the Dem party).

    Everytime somebody brings up the ‘we need to get along’ – I’m not quite sure we can. The formerly and current oppressed classes want restitution for our suffering – and the GOP wants us all to go away. Where’s the compromise in that? One side would have to accept that the country is going to look different than the one they grew up with – darker, more foreign, and probably sexually ambiguous. The side demanding the changes has been trying for 400 years.

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  3. Everytime somebody brings up the ‘we need to get along’ – I’m not quite sure we can. The formerly and current oppressed classes want restitution for our suffering – and the GOP wants us all to go away. Where’s the compromise in that? One side would have to accept that the country is going to look different than the one they grew up with – darker, more foreign, and probably sexually ambiguous.

    The GOP doesn’t want you to go away – it needs you for the success of its economic models. It just doesn’t want to grant you the opportunity to succeed or to even be paid a living wage.

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  4. I think of Linus Van Pelt and his comment that he loved humanity but couldn’t stand people. I am exactly the opposite: I love individual people. Even people with whom I disagree on many things, I can find some common ground where I can love them. When I know someone, when I know a little about their hopes and dreams and background and fears, most of the time I can find something to like. There are very few people I would say I actively disliked; mainly for me it takes the form of avoiding someone that I find exhausting or combative.

    But humanity, man. Forget humanity. And all its stupid tribalisms. We’re all fellow passengers on the way to the grave, man.

    I also dislike tribalism because in several areas of my life I’m someone with one foot in each of different camps (e.g., I am a biologist who accepts and teaches evolution, but I am also a Christian who is active in her congregation and attends church weekly) and deep down, I worry that if things come to some kind of weird tribal war, no tribe will “claim” me and I’ll be one of the early casualties. (Then again, if the future is unending civil war, maybe I’d prefer to be one of the early casualties and hopefully end up in the “good place.”)

    I guess what I’m saying is I’m not sure we can come to common ground as *groups,* because tribalism, but maybe as individual people we can? And maybe the problem with the internet is that it allows people to be much more tribal without consequences, and not to see the human parts of their opponent? (The “say that to my face” phenomenon)

    I dunno. Being a human is hard these days and sometimes I feel like a lot of the love, tolerance, and listening-to-other-people my parents taught me is just another rule that’s been suspended, and I don’t know how to act or whether I’ll fit in anywhere…

    Of course, the other issue is that a lot of the larger systems we act in are broken, and the way they got broken is not necessarily the fault of the people acting in them (e.g., the customer-service people didn’t mess up your order) but it’s easy to blame the people who are the “faces” of those systems…

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    • I totally agree with every word you say filly and thanks so much for putting it so eloquently.

      I’m also of two worlds, not of either tribe really, and I feel like I’m watching a slow motion train wreck from afar. I keep thinking “well surely I have the right words to say to stop all this” but like any train wreck, objects that are in motion tend to stay in motion.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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    • I hear ya. I think most people, if they really thought about it, don’t just have one tribe, and the tribes they do belong to don’t all get along. But I think people like to pretend they do, or that they have but one tribe, and they compartmentalize and prioritize their beliefs for whatever reason(s).

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  5. I love the concept and the ideas in this piece. Thank you Kristin for writing it.

    I know by saying this I fall into the trap of exemplifying your criticism of one side believing itself to be “on the side of the angels”, but really, if one has the perspective that conservative policies tend to bolster only a small portion of society while harming the marginalized, either intentionally or as a side effect, it is really hard to give the benefit of good faith to the other side.

    However, I’ve learned, because of my deep friendships with a few conservatives, that they are not coming from a place of uncaring; they just don’t have the same baseline. We want the same things- we just disagree on how to get there.

    I do want to say that I notice that every time someone writes one of these “can’t we all just get along” pieces, the writer stops in the middle to take the opportunity to rail against the other side, which is kind of like falling into one’s own trap. “We need to compromise (and by we I mean the other side because we’ve compromised enough)”. And then my knee jerk reaction is “there should be no compromise on xyz because basic human dignity…” and round and round we go.

    I’ll just stay in my room with a mini fridge I guess. You can have the rest of the house.

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    • Here’s the thing though. I don’t feel I fell into a trap by saying that. I know it can be seen as an inconsistency of message and I knew it as I was writing and editing it.

      But think it needs to be said in the way that I said it for the very reason you point out – because I don’t feel that many people on the left have any understanding of why many conservatives think the way they do. I really, truly believe that small government conservative/libertarian policies are better for poor and marginalized people (I am, in fact, an actual Poor Person). I really truly believe that conservative cultural norms are better for poor and marginalized people (than what we have going on right now, that is – I’m not a prude or a Puritan). And I really truly believe that most conservatives are much more live and let live than they’re made out to be. So when these charges are levied against me all I can do is shrug because you’re not describing me and you’re not describing any conservatives that I even know.

      This notion of conservatives being racist and greedy and wanting to enact the Handmaid’s Tale or whatever – it’s not real. People are no more racist, greedy, sexist, or sexually Puritanical than they ever were and you can make a very good case that in fact the vast majority of humanity is by far less racist, sexist, and sexually Puritanical than ever. (Greed seems the same as it ever was but greed is in no way exclusive to conservatives.) It’s politics. It’s tribalism. It really is a form of blind prejudice based on assumptions and stereotypes – I’m not saying you, I’m saying in my experience with many people I know in other arenas – and it is at the very core of our troubles here because again, when one side believes the other side is like, really, actually bad and operates under that assumption it simply cannot end up anywhere good. Because every tactic in the book is ok if you’re dealing with someone who is really actually bad.

      So it puts me in a funny position here of having to argue that we both need to get along (true) and that I find one side to be currently more in the wrong than the other (which I also find true). If I would have concealed my position I would have been called out on it anyway – in fact that was a criticism of my original piece, if I recall – and so I felt it appropriate to include my own opinion about it.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for your input. Much appreciated.

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      • This notion of conservatives being racist and greedy and wanting to enact the Handmaid’s Tale or whatever – it’s not real.

        And this is what “your side” does that stunts any ability to peacefully coexist: dismissal out of hand of the realities people actually face. No, not “handmaid’s tale”, but racism, sexism, economic injustice- it exists. “No worse than it used to be” is a poor metric for deciding we should all just settle for what is. But it’s only the conservatives insisting this is not reality, or “not so bad”.

        I don’t have to believe the other side is evil in order to believe they are wrong and argue against it. Intentions don’t mean a thing; only what results matters.

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        • And it occurs to me, I bristled so much at the insinuation that the issues I and my ilk are so invested in fixing don’t exist that I went right back to fight mode.

          Listen, I want to assume that people act from a place of good faith and not malice. That’s hard to do, when the other side is blatantly telling me they don’t think our concerns are real. And I do realize it is the stereotype that you are saying doesn’t exist, but it is really hard to separate the stereotype from the actual policies when they fall right in line.

          I could tell you that the conservative small government policies, as expressed currently, would have resulted in my probably still living in poverty, in a house with the roof falling in, no higher education, and a lot of hungry bed times as a child. I advocate for social welfare programs because I know how much I benefited from them. It’s really hard for me to fall in line with policies that would take them away..

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          • Would it help if we stopped short-handing things? We all (not just here, but everywhere other than formal debate settings) use a few words to refer to some extended argument and assume that the other guy understands the argument and its limitations. If someone says “racism doesn’t exist”, he probably means that racism is a historical reality that still exists, but is no longer part of our legal system and has marginal impact on our institutions. But it’s cumbersome to take the time online to spell out each point of an overall position. I don’t know where the middle ground is – it could be the case that any political discussion under 5 pages does more harm than good.

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            • You have fair points here re short-handing (though whether institutionalized racism is still prevalent in our legal system and otherwise is a debate for another day- it is not codified, I grant).
              But that’s why it is so unhelpful to be outright dismissive like that.

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              • How would you propose we stop short-handing? Does it help for people to call out their own team? Or call out the other team? Would it help if we had some position papers that we could point to if someone were unsure what we meant? Could we agree on fair formulations? I often mention the old rule in medieval theological debate: that each side should be able to state the other side’s position to the other side’s satisfaction before any debate can begin.

                It seems to me that a first step would be eliminating Twitter. Then again, that’d be my first step toward solving a lot of problems.

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                  • Yeah, I see Twitter as a tool. You can use it for good or for bad.

                    I know I’ve said before that one horrible January night a couple years ago when my dad wound up in the ER and I didn’t know what was going on and for a while I was even scared BOTH of my parents might be dead, and I went on there and said “This is happening and I’m scared” some of my mutuals offered support and even to pray for my dad (even though they didn’t know him).

                    (Spoiler alert: it was a medication mistake, they are both fine now)

                    Granted, I have a locked account so randos can’t me (though I did that partly so I wouldnt’ risk getting students following me) and I have a v. small number of those who follow me and that I follow but….

                    as someone with v. specific issues that keep me from picking up the phone or texting people, it’s nice to be able to throw a joke or a comment out on twitter and feel heard.

                    I wish bigger Twitter were less of a tire fire, but my own little circle is generally pretty supportive – and I mutually follow people both more conservative than I am (even one or two Trump supporters, though they have voiced dismay at some of his more outrageous things) and also people more liberal than I am.

                    Part of the trick I find is not engaging too much when you feel like it’s a position that will only lead to a fight and to no one changing their opinion…

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          • Are you dismissive of conservative concerns? Not the strawman concerns, but the actual things they worry about?

            I mean, I know a lot of conservatives who do advocate for and depend on those social welfare programs. I also know a lot of conservatives who see the funding for the programs they depend on drying up and being re-allocated to urban areas, and who are then told, “Just move to the city”.

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            • There’s a fascinating topic for discussion in there. In Colorado, in every case over the last 20 years where allocation formulas were re-jiggered, a larger share of the moneys were allocated to rural areas. Education, roads, health care, telecommunications. RUS provides money for rural utility infrastructure that can’t be given to the non-rural. Can they/you provide some concrete examples of rural funding being diverted to urban areas?

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              • I honestly don’t know that they are being diverted, but it is the refrain I hear.

                It could be that the monies spent are being spent in non-obvious ways, or in ways that are not directly helpful to the person family. So the perception is that the money is diverted, or that it is being spent on big projects that are nice, but don’t put food on the table (and it’s awful easy to go from big project spending to ‘political payoff spending’). Thus perception drives the conversation.

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                • I honestly don’t know that they are being diverted, but it is the refrain I hear.

                  The “refrain I hear[d]” growing up in Central New York decades ago was that “our” tax money was being sucked into NYC for Those People. It was never true. NYC has almost always been a net exporter of tax revenue to the rest of the state. Once in a blue moon, the Rochester area would generate more tax revenue than it consumed, but that was small and rare.

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                  • That’s what makes me wonder if the problem is that the flow of money isn’t visible to the people on the ground.

                    It’s like when you talk to a 1%’er, and they tell you that money isn’t being hoarded in bank vaults, it’s in circulation, getting loaned out to people and small businesses, and all that, and you don’t care because you are working 2 minimum wage jobs just to pay the rent and keep the lights on.

                    It doesn’t matter if the city is sending money to the rural areas, if it’s being spent on big projects that don’t employ the locals, or otherwise grant them assistance. Those nice new roads are great, but the contractor wasn’t local. That power plant is nice, but very little local labor was used to build it, and none of the locals have the skills to work there. Or Ag subsidies that all wind up going to big corps or hobby farmers from the urban area, because they are the ones who have the time and energy to fill out the paperwork and game the system.

                    Etc.

                    It’s nice that the money is being sent to the area, but if it isn’t helping you, or your neighbors, in ways that you can feel the impact of, does it matter?

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                    • Like it or not, pork barrel spending gave politicians inventive to make sure people knew where the spending was coming from. Part of the issue with neoliberal programs compared to out and out vulgar Keynesian is that a lot of people aren’t even aware the government is helping them.

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  6. One minor point about The Odd Couple, both Felix and Oscar were putting so much effort into their new relationship because they were both recently divorced.

    So when they had conflict, they immediately started engaging in actions that would have helped with their former marriages. Too late, perhaps… but it was enough to perform necessary corrective maintenance actions to their new relationship with their new roommate.

    They were able to do this because of their divorces.

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  7. Growing up, my parents had a little slip of paper stuck to the fridge. On it was written:

    The Secret To Domestic Tranquility: During any domestic dispute, once you realize you are right, apologize.

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  8. Its always pleasant to imagine a state of compromise in the abstract, free of any actual content.

    What would be a compromise over police shootings of unarmed black men? Like, we prosecute 50% of the cops, and let the other half go free? Or maybe we demand they shoot only to wound, but not to kill?

    What would be a compromise be, to a culture that allows men to harass women with impunity? We demand that groping a breast is acceptable, but a vagina is off limits?

    The reason people savage these calls for compromise, is that they are, frankly, insulting.
    They reduce these issues of dignity and freedom to petty spats over who left dishes in the sink.

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    • Way back in 2016, I found myself wondering what compromises would be possible and the two examples I came up with got a *LOT* of heavy pushback.

      In my little version of the Ultimatum Game, the deal was something like this:

      You offer a compromise.
      If the other person doesn’t take it, you get Trump.

      I made some dumb little offers like “allow Nativity Scenes in front of the City Hall” and “get rid of the BAKE THE CAKE! thing” and I got a lot of pushback. Not surprising, really. They weren’t my things to offer and they weren’t things other that other people could accept (even in theory). That said, the very idea that there were areas, even in theory, that could be compromised on was interesting to me.

      I wasn’t coming at it from “WHAT COMPROMISES COULD BE HAD WITH THESE MONSTERS” but from “okay, let’s assume that there are things that Team Good would be willing to give up that Team Evil wants”.

      And I couldn’t come up with anything that Team Good would have been willing to give up.

      This strikes me as a problem if Team Good is not negotiating from a position of strength.

      But we’ve an election in five weeks. If there’s a Blue Wave, Team Good can negotiate from a position of strength and really tighten down on those Team Evil basterds.

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        • If the end result is papering over differences and kicking the can down the road a ways, “makes everyone worse off in the end” isn’t entirely true.

          If we could make everyone worse off and increase solidarity thereby? That’s making everyone better off, in an odd way.

          If I could institute a post-Maslow society and make everybody at each others’ throats and doing nothing but jockey for position and willing to harm anyone who wasn’t their immediate tribe? That’s making everybody worse off… even if everybody’s meetable material needs are met.

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            • If I remember the argument from last name, basically conservative white people get to veto any cultural changes until they’re comfortable with them and always retain the right to vote for a crazy xenophobic criminal sexual abuser if liberals are too mean to them.

              Basically, white cultural conservatism stays the default forever.

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              • If I remember the argument from last name, basically conservative white people get to veto any cultural changes until they’re comfortable with them and always retain the right to vote for a crazy xenophobic criminal sexual abuser if liberals are too mean to them.

                You assume that they’ll play ball if you’re not mean to them. LOL.

                They just don’t like your kind. Simple as that.

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            • The compromise as Jesse seems to say is that change only happens at a level that makes the most conservative members of society feel safe and secure. This is a glacial pace.

              During the Mastercakes II debate, I saw a lot of people try to say that LBGT people already “won” gay marriage and they can just leave the baker alone but this is still a kind of second-class citizenship that ignores that being equal means being fully allowed to participate in civil and economic life.

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              • What has surprised me is to recognize how the arc of the universe does NOT inexorably bend towards justice.

                Like these ISIS recruits who grew up in liberal western societies, people like Ben Shapiro and Milo aren’t resisting change.
                Even those red faced shouty MAGA hat men aren’t really that old. They grew up in the Woodstock and disco generation.

                They yearn for a world that is alien to them, but one in which they are sure they would be kings, as they deserve.

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                • This is one thing that’s sort of hard to remember at times. When somebody says a ’70 year old,’ I think a lot people still think of a guy who possibly fought in WWII instead of a guy who possibly fought in Vietnam.

                  I mean, to a 15 year old growing up today, ‘Nevermind’ is as old an album as The White Album was to somebody in 1993.

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              • ughhhh….the LS of P didn’t have to cover anyone’s birth control. As i remember all they had to do was fill out a form asking for an exemption which they would been granted and the gov would have paid for the BC. They didn’t want to fill out the form.

                Am i remembering any of that wrong?

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                    • So… I’m trying to wrap my head around this… that’s something that you don’t even see as something worth having compromised on because it was so very small in the first place and besides they didn’t have to do anything?

                      Because that strikes me as the perfect thing to have compromised on.

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                      • Not making religious organizations have to pay for BC directly if they filled out a form was the compromise. What the Little Sisters and other wanted wanted was to not even have out to fill out the form so they didn’t have to pay for BC, because they didn’t want their employees health care plans to cover BC period, even if their employees wanted said health care plan.

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                          • No, I’m not willing to compromise women’s access to birth control so a bunch of conservatives who believe they should control their employees sexuality.

                            I’m not saying, “make them pay for the birth control.” I’m saying, “make them sign the form so the government can pay for the birth control.”

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                            • Jesse,

                              No, I’m not willing to compromise women’s access to birth control so a bunch of conservatives who believe they should control their employees sexuality.

                              This is a dumb hill to fight on and your characterization is false and misleading if not worse. If the only thing you can do is inject hyperbole to obscure the actual fact pattern and not argue off the fact pattern itself, it’s weak sauce. I’m extremely unimpressed. Quit the partisan chest thumping before you knock the wind out of yourself.

                              I’m not saying, “make them pay for the birth control.” I’m saying, “make them sign the form so the government can pay for the birth control.”

                              No, and it’s obvious you have no clue how faith-based health systems work or even care to think about it.

                              It’s not about the payment for birth control, it’s about the fact that even if they aren’t paying for it, the health system is providing it. Since the faith-based health systems operate STRICTLY within the religious directives of the organization, they operate according to those principles, which means the delivery of healthcare AND religion are intertwined and you can’t separate them nor should you.

                              There are a lot of healthcare services that faith-based health systems don’t provide, and, more likely than not owners of medical real estate on hospital campuses have use restrictions on who they can and can’t lease to based on those religious directives.

                              It’s no different for people that choose to work for faith-based organizations in the capacity of carrying out those missions. It should be painfully obvious to anyone that understands the First Amendment that forcing a faith-based health system to act in a manner that interferes with the practice of religion flies in the face of the Free Exercise clause.

                              To think, these are organizations that collectively provide several billion a year in charity care across the country. Yet, those god damn conservatives blah blah blah blah.

                              You may want to learn a bit more about how to compromise and pick your battles wisely. I’m pretty good at both FWIW. This is a hill I”m happy to fight on.

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                              • I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that there is a large segment of the conservative wing that is hostile to making contraception easily accessible, even of they themselves use it.

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                                • Chip Daniels: I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that there is a large segment of the conservative wing that is hostile to making contraception easily accessible, even of they themselves use it.

                                  It’s not, but that’s not the issue here.

                                  We’re talking about faith-based organizations. Now, if you’re one of those partisans that believe that you need to eradicate the “conservative” worldview by all means necessary including shitting on the Constitution and throwing faith-based health systems under the bus, then to me, you’re no better than the self righteous culture warriors I’ve banged heads with over most of my adult life. Worse, you dare do it under the banner of liberalism.

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                                    • Em,

                                      What about non-faith based organizations?

                                      I wouldn’t apply my standard above to non-faith based organizations. I’m digging in my heels on the ground of religious faith as an organization not, for example, a non-faith-based organization with a deeply religious CEO using his moral beliefs to try to get out of providing birth control. I’m adamantly against that.

                                      I sided with Hobby Lobby when the case was decided because it is (or was at the time) a faith-based company. Frankly, it’s the only one I can think of so I wasn’t concerned about a precedent being set for other for-profit companies to follow suit.

                                      As far as the sincerely held religious belief standard goes, it doesn’t trouble me in the context of RFRA but what would trouble me is the elevation of sincerely held religious beliefs as a deciding standard in Free Exercise cases, where the exercise as PRACTICE applies.

                                      In fact, while I have a threshold where I think the Free Exercise clause would apply in, for example, a case between religious liberty and same sex marriage, it’s significantly higher than what I’m seeing with some of the other cases challenging anti-discrimination law, which is clinging to sincerely held religious beliefs.

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                              • If the insurance plan documentation states “no coverage for contraception” (and insurers are required to provide that type of coverage information to their insureds), and the government agrees to pay for it under those circumstances, then the insured should be able to present that documentation to the government to get it paid for, independent from and outside of the insurance system. That doesn’t require any action on the part of the employer. How about that?

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                          • But where is the lack of compromise? The Sis’s didn’t have to pay for BC and their employees could get it another way. That seems like both sides get what is most important to them. That is a successful compromise.

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                          • Why is Women’s Medical Care the only kind of care that were allowed to bargain away? I mean if all they got to do is sign a piece of paper and they no longer have the difficult conscience decision of allowing a woman to seek Healthcare that she wants what’s the problem?

                            Does Jesus forbid them from signing pieces of paper? Is this not a thing y’all should render unto Ceaser?

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                      • Jesse’s response below echos my own thoughts. Allowing them to fill out a form and have the government/insurer pay for the BC coverage portion of the insurance seems like a reasonable compromise between requiring that all health insurance plans include BC and a religious employer objecting to offering insurance with BC but otherwise wanting to offer insurance. No money from them, no further administrative work, just applying for and receiving an exemption.

                        I think that this does illustrate an issue with a focus on “compromise.” What are the starting points? I think I fairly described them above, but if the Little Sisters treat the objection to filling out the form as their starting point, then I guess in their eyes we haven’t compromised at all.

                        From my perspective, as someone who is skeptical of any employers getting to reshape the definition of certain categories of benefits for any reason, it does seem like that was worth compromising on in service of our national norm for respecting religious convictions. So I think we agree, but I don’t think the Little Sisters do.

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                        • What are the starting points?

                          Talk to gun rights folks, and you get something similar. The compromises they agreed to where in 1934, and 1968, and 1990-something (I forget). So when they are accused of not compromising, they are starting from a much different point than the people accusing them.

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                          • Ironically, despite still believing in basically gun confiscation, gun rights folks are the only people among the current conservative coalition who I’ll agree have something to personally measurably lose from a more left-wing America, outside of cultural power.

                            Well, and incredibly rich people.

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                        • Van_Owen: I think that this does illustrate an issue with a focus on “compromise.” What are the starting points? I think I fairly described them above, but if the Little Sisters treat the objection to filling out the form as their starting point, then I guess in their eyes we haven’t compromised at all.

                          Without explaining in detail what I do, most likely because it’s boring, I compromise for a living.

                          The only way you put yourself in a situation where compromise is possible is if you know going in that both parties have room to move and are willing to do that.

                          You say provide it. They say no. You say sign a form so you don’t have to pay for it. They say you’re asking them to believe that by not paying for it but making it available anyway, they’re technically not providing it.

                          Compromise does not involve forcing someone to do something and trying to gloss over that fact through technicalities or third party involvement. I deal with real estate sellers that try to pull this crap and it’s a non-starter every time.

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                • This a perfect example of where the “extreme” liberal position was in fact, Kristin’s compromise.
                  The Sisters were not asked to take BC, or buy BC, or even pay for someone else’s BC.
                  They were asked to allow their employees to select a health plan that covered it.
                  In this case, “allowing you to do something in your own home” was too radical and extreme.

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                  • Maybe I’m confused but my employer doesn’t pay for my health insurance

                    It is part of my compensation package

                    I pay for it through my labor

                    What burden does this impose on anyone?

                    What difference would it make if Little Sisters of the poor employee took their paycheck and bought birth control

                    Same difference

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          • To me that’s the beauty of liberal democracy if managed well. No one leaves happy but everyone leaves alive, and able to come back to the table another day.

            Looking for happiness in our system is missing the point. Sometimes I wonder if our consumer culture and expectations of instant gratification aren’t themselves partially to blame for where we are.

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    • We can always find some topic where the stakes are so high that some simple compromise isn’t feasible. That isn’t the point.

      The point is, when every topic is treated as a life or death struggle, when you can not compromise anywhere, ever; then the truly important struggles, the ones that actually matter, because people are being truly harmed in profound and life destroying ways, they get lost in the noise.

      I mean, police are killing black men, right now. Also, right now, there are a couple of bakers and florists and photographers who don’t want to service gay weddings.

      One of these things is important and involves serious harm to a minority.

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        • Lacking empathy… yep.

          The other day I was listening to an interview with the guy who wrote ‘Raising Cain’. He was talking about how empathy is not innate, it must be taught to children. Some kids pick it up much faster than others, but it’s still something we have to teach, and the process of teaching it starts at infancy and carries well into adulthood.

          The point he was getting at is that in modern society, boys are not taught empathy much past a early point, whereas girls often get it in taught in spades (although what girls learn could be a whole other discussion). And research has found that boys, especially teenage boys, who regularly have to take care of younger children, develop a greater capacity for empathy than boys who don’t.

          Which got me thinking about our school system, and what we have potentially lost by segregating the ages so severely (when compared to the old one room school houses, or even modern Montessori schools, where the ages all commingle and are expected to help each other, etc.). I think we may have avoided the issue coming to the fore for a while because families were still large and tightly located, such that even if a child was an only child, or a youngest, there were still younger cousins, or nephews/nieces, or just the kids of family friends that the older kids were expected to help with. But as families have gotten smaller, and more segregated…

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        • I’m white and bi and I don’t give a crap about cake bakers, even if I only look at other issues that other white gay people are facing. (It’s not true that I do that, but if I *try* to pretend to do that, I still don’t care about cake bakers.)

          I know a LOT of white gay people who don’t care about cake bakers. I know some who do, but not life and death, more like “and in other ‘fuck you too’ news…” Or, at worst, they think we’re already in a war with people who want to wipe us out (which a significant segment of the people they are thinking of do want!) and they see baking the cake as a strategic win (where I see it as a strategic loss).

          I agree with Oscar about this.

          No idea if you also identify as gay – I think you don’t – but in general I hear from a lot more people who are offended on my behalf that cakes won’t be baked, and are also offended on black people’s behalf about people being killed, and then equate the two in terms of importance to address (or, even, ugh, elevate controlling the bakers and florists), than I ever have from LGBTQ people equating the two.

          I mean, when it comes to people I actually know, not clickbait articles on clickbait-oriented sites.

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          • Straight guy here, but I do have a gay daughter. The whole baker thing seemed like such small beer to me, but I guess so did lunch counters to a white Southerner in the 60s. I was trying to get at empathy here, not relitigate the baker’s case. (Though the whole introduction of so-called conscience exceptions scares the piss out of me.)

            Oscar has taken us in an interesting direction. Many have bemoaned the de-collectivization of American life. Maybe that’s at the root of our problems.

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            • That is sort of the point. You can frame the issue in ways that make it look small fry and petty. But I look at it from the point of what does it means to be an equal citizen in this country (or any other country).

              Having it be okay that someone or some organization can deny you an educational, economic, or commercial opportunity because of your race, religion, sexuality, creed, etc. How is someone an equal citizen if someone can say “We don’t let gay people into this restaurant?” or “We don’t hire Jews” and this is honky dory.

              Most of the people (note I say most, not all) are middle aged white-dudes who will never face such queries but almost certainly fret that they will.

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              • But I look at it from the point of what does it means to be an equal citizen in this country (or any other country).

                I look at it from an ‘available resources’ perspective.

                The collective will of the citizenry has a finite amount of attention and effort it can focus on any given issue. Some folks have more time and attention they can spend, most have very little. Of all the things that you care about, which ones are important enough that you would want those folks with very little attention to spend to focus on?

                And keep in mind that whatever topic you choose, there will be others who want the citizenry to focus that attention toward their goals.

                So not only do you need to narrow the focus, you have to be highly compelling as you do so.

                So to your point, what grants greater equality of a citizen, being able to force a private citizen to bake you a wedding cake, or finding a way to get police to stop killing people who aren’t a true threat?

                Pick. Your. Effing. Battles.

                Sometimes that means you surrender the field over there, so you can focus your efforts over here.

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              • There is no future America in which a white male would have his status diminished in any way from what he enjoys today. Worrying about this non-event is pointless and silly. Those stoking this fear are people we really need to worry about.

                How is someone an equal citizen if someone can say “We don’t let gay people into this restaurant?” or “We don’t hire Jews” and this is honky dory.

                Trying to erase everyone’s petty prejudices is a fool’s unwinnable game. The war has already been won. Worrying about some isolated redoubt is a waste of time.

                I agree with Oscar’s point below regarding picking your battles. One bakery won’t bake your cake? Take your custom elsewhere. There are other bakers who will be happy to take your cash. There are other, bigger ills in this society and they need our attention more now than ever.

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                • There is no future America in which a white male would have his status diminished in any way from what he enjoys today.

                  Forced busing and educational integration comes pretty close. I intend to have my kids do as well as they can in life.

                  The best way to do that is to minimize their exposure to kids with serious problems… which are mostly related to poverty… which in turn can translate into race. “Serious problems” means “things which suck up the teacher’s time which should be spent educating my kid”.

                  ———————–

                  Another potential issue is pensions and paying for the rest of the “elderly” stuff. The budget for this will/is squeezing out basically everything else, which specifically includes “help for the poor”. Saying “you don’t get your pension because these other people are more worthy” also seems like “reducing someone’s status”.

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  9. You have a point, Kristin, and I tend to think we white liberals could dial back the judgementalness.

    And, I have a personal stake in many of these issues. My daughter is a trans woman. This had a big, negative impact on her until she successfully transitioned. I want her to be safe and happy, and I’m not going to admit that I’m “wrong” about that. If there’s trouble in the women’s bathroom, it isn’t going to be her causing it, and any other woman in there is going to be glad she’s there. She will have your back.

    I am not about to dial back my support of her, or other people like her. I love her, and that’s that.

    In addition, my day is full of Mexican Americans. They enrich my life. We operate on a basis of mutual respect. There are also a few Muslim Americans in my life. There is one restaurant we go to weekly that serves Mediterranean food. Once in a while, their daughter is there wearing hijab. I love their food, they are friendly, they hire a broad spectrum of workers. They are worth having here.

    Again, this makes it personal. I’m not about to back down on my support for friends and acquaintances.

    Now, I have no intention of policing POC in their statements. There are those who are eloquent, and those who are not-so-much. I get where their feelings come from, even if I might not agree in detail about their statements. People who have suffered trauma are often very bad at describing what happened to them, at least at first.

    Meanwhile, I think white liberals could dial back their self-righteousness a bit. Every white person in America has a legacy of learned racism. It’s impossible to grow up in this culture without it. It has to be unlearned. It can be unlearned, but maybe only partially. The tendency to divide the world into Us and Them is deeply embedded in humans. We need to do better, to make the effort. It’s worth it.

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    • “You have a point, Kristin, and I tend to think we white liberals could dial back the judgementalness.”

      I strongly disagree with this Doctor Jay.

      First, it seems to go into the stupid trope of the Palinista world view that whiteness innately goes with being conservative, rural, and also in some kind of working class/physical job. In this worldview, white liberals are race and class traitors and upper-middle class “coastal elitists.”* It is a natural praise of the so-called and self-described “heartland” that I reject. I reject it with the same ferocity that I reject allowing the right-wing Congresscritters to call themselves the House “Freedom” Caucus. Why do they get a monopoly on defining freedom? Why am I morally obligated to go long with their definitions of freedom and liberty?

      Second, a lot of issues on liberalism are not just about race and ethnicity though many are. Abortion is not about race. Freedom of Belief is not about race. LBGT issues are not necessarily about race. Environmentalism is not necessarily about race. Minimum wage and other economic issues are not about race.

      I was born in 1980. The “moral majority” and “Christian right” have been around for my entire life. They have always loved to preen about how moral and pure and good they are compared to the corrupt and degenerate secular world. They have also proven themselves to be massive hypocrites for my entire life. They get involved in sex scandals. They have high-rates of teenage pregnancy and/or STDs because they refuse to develop serious sex-ed programs and they force abstinence only down the rest of our throats. They tell me I will burn in hell and suffer never ending torment because I don’t believe Christ is the messiah. And Donald Trump is the straw that broke the camel’s back. They are so desperate to maintain their social order that they gave the Presidency to an irreligious libertine and they do mental gymnastics to prove why he is a Godly and changed man. Meanwhile, I have a hard time thinking of a man more devoted to his wife and children than Barack Obama. Barack Obama was a good man and a good Christian by all the ways it should be defined and the Christian right shat in their pants and created a trillion tons of manufactured horror at him. For what? Wearing a tan suit?

      Why should I be non-judgemental here? Why should I assume that the Christian Right is godly and moral just because they say so? They haven’t done anything in my view to earn it.

      *Of course “elitist” is one of the most heavily weaponsized phrases in the United States politically. As far as I can tell, the right-wing would describe a woman who lives with three roommates in a Brooklyn flat and teaches public school as an elitist if the woman splurged on tickets to BAM, the Joyce, or New York Theatre workshop every now and then. Meanwhile a Florida paving contractor with a 500K house and a 200k boat is not an elitist. This is bullshit.

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      • It seems I have not made myself clear. I’m talking about attitudes, not facts. Facts are facts. Behavior has consequences, and both of those are facts.

        We need to talk more about the impact that certain behaviors have on us. We need to talk less about how terrible the people who behaved that way are.

        This is, in fact, a basic building block in having good relationships. Psychologists talk about them as “I” statements. Or, another formula is

        1. What happened.
        2. What it meant to you.
        3. How you felt about it.

        That’s all fair game. We need to be more vulnerable, just as Dr. Blasey was. This attitude puts me out of step with all politics as we know and practice it today, in which demonizing the opponents by using guilt by association is standard practice. I detest that practice.

        So, I’m not a trans person. I’m not a person of color. Nor am I a woman. I need to play my position and talk about this sort of thing from my own experience, from my own point of view. This is more powerful. I’ve done it in lots of settings. It’s scary, though. It’s quite possible you could be mocked and ridiculed. That has happened to me. Not generally here.

        Let’s check in with, say Lincoln’s Second Inaugural:

        If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

        That is the opposite of “you guys are terrible”. I don’t think that was simple rhetoric, or more baldly, a lie, on Lincoln’s part, either.

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  10. I don’t want to post anything ideological on this thread, but I think this is relevant.

    We were never a country that got along. We were a bunch of slave-traders, utopian cult leaders, and bitter monarchists who had very little in common. So we agreed to establish a system that gave us minimal control over each other. We were separate states who shared a few common national features. We went to war with each other, and found that we had to concentrate power a little more than we’d planned, but we were still considerably independent. But that’s eroded over time. We don’t have to contemplate divorce or agree with each other if we’ve got some room to ourselves. I’ve got a couple of other thoughts about this article, but I’m sure I’ll have a chance to add them elsewhere.

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    • I’m not really into the cult of the founders (pro or con) but there’s a bit more to it than this. Our government was founded in part on concepts coming out of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War. No it didn’t hurt that there was a lot of space and lack of centralized authority but real thought went into the system. It isn’t sacrosanct but I don’t think it was exactly blind luck/geography as destiny either.

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    • ” We don’t have to contemplate divorce or agree with each other if we’ve got some room to ourselves. ”

      “Damn it, why won’t liberals just give us some room to ourselves so we can continue to allow open discrimination against people unlike us in our area, limit reproductive choice of people in political opposition to us in our area, ripping apart our meager welfare state that largely goes to people in political opposition of us in our area, giving political cover to cops to do whatever they wish to suspects, and so on, and so forth.”

      That’s the problem with giving right-leaning areas some “room to yourselves” is they turn state and local power on to those who are weaker and with less political power than those with local and state political power.

      If the results of giving right-leaning areas “some room to themselves” was a slightly smaller welfare state and more gun rights, but more freedom for women, LGBT folks, etc. that might be something to put up with in the name of national unity. The reality is what’s gone on in every state legislative in almost every ‘Red State’ since 2010.

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      • Yes. Agreed with all that.

        And we need to give them room anyway. Bad ideas need to be tried and shown to be bad. Many “perfect” solutions will turn out to be less than perfect (for example gun control).

        Worse, shoving even perfect solutions down people’s throats will create opposition and requires the political/legal/moral framework needed for them to do the same to you.

        Sooner or later, someone MUCH worse than Trump will be in charge of implementing whatever framework we have. That’s something to keep in mind when we start thinking about how we’re going to force people to be as good as we are.

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      • I get that you think the right is bullies. Do you get that I think that the left is bullies? You should be able to reason it out, and if this thread is about coexistence, it’s something worth doing.

        But even that aside, think about what your comment says about the possibility of compromise or coexistence. In my world, everyone can live under the laws their area chooses, and move if it’s important enough to them. (I know moving isn’t easy for everyone, but at least it’s a safety valve.) In your world, only your side should be allowed to dominate. (You don’t even consider what happens when the left is allowed room to itself.) Leaving aside the question of whether or not you and I are able to compromise at certain times, why shouldn’t I consider you a dedicated enemy?

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        • In my world, everyone can live under the laws their area chooses, and move if it’s important enough to them. (I know moving isn’t easy for everyone, but at least it’s a safety valve.)

          Because here in the US that has a long history of being an excuse for imposing those laws on people who have no say in them, by systematically disenfranchising them, and then using various forms of state force and coercion to keep them impoverished, keep them from advocating for change, and often subject them to criminal penalties that make moving even more difficult than it would otherwise be.

          If we were starting from square one, maybe this would be a workable compromise.

          The problem is we aren’t. Big chunks of the country have a million excellent reasons to believe that federalism and local control are a scam.

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          • Big chunks of the country have a million excellent reasons to believe that federalism and local control are a scam.

            As someone who lives in Colorado, lemme tell ya: there’s a million and one reasons to believe that Federal Supremacy ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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            • Still better than giving local fiefdoms absolute power over peoples lives. The only thing worse than Republicans on the national level are most Republican’s at the state and local levels. Especially in areas where they’re the majority.

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          • The reality is that people like federalism when it’s applied to something they like and they don’t like it when states violate people’s rights.

            We’re all fair weather fans whether you realize it or not.

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  11. Unsurprisingly, I’m with Chip Daniels here.

    I will start off with the observation that OT is a political blog filled with political junkies. Just like LGM or people who comment on RedState or The National Review. I would bet money that an overwhelming number of Americans do not pay attention to politics with the same intensity that we do. If we are at 11, many, maybe most, Americans are between 2-4. There was an article on Vox a few weeks ago about how 30 percent or so of young Americans (18-29) don’t consider it very important to vote in the 2018 elections.*

    But otherwise Chip is right. It is attractive to imagine some grand bargain and/or compromise in the abstract but in reality these calls become insulting to intelligence. These are serious issues that people feel on an existential level. Clawing back the social changes that started in the 1960s is clearly very important to many people on the right. There are an equal number or more people in the United States that disagree and will be marginalized and isolated by any rollback. What is the compromise between someone whom thinks abortion is murder and someone who doesn’t believe that a fetus as any quality known as a soul.

    A lot of these calls for compromise end up being another way of just saying “Liberals, please sit down and shut up. You upset us.” Fuck that shit.

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    • Given the congressional district I’m in, I’d probably agree with the 30% of college students. As for OT’s level of political knowledge, it’s far above average, but remember that all those dummies out there have equal access to Facebook. The overall political discussion in the country isn’t limited to people who know about it or even care about it other than as a team sport.

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    • I for got my asterisk.

      *The problem with these polls is that it is impossible to tell anything about the demographic. They could be the right-wing 18-29 year olds who are demoralized by Trump. They could be left-sympathizing but have a “too cool for school” attitude when it comes to voting. They could be a combination.

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    • A lot of these calls for compromise end up being another way of just saying “Liberals, please sit down and shut up. You upset us.” Fuck that shit.

      Is there a point at which you might be willing to say “huh… this isn’t working”?

      We’re five weeks away from an election, after all. Is there an election outcome that would get you to say “okay… um… I’m not saying that we should sit down and shut up but I am willing to relax my standing pose and listen for a few moments”?

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      • Why do you use the word “listen”?

        Do you think we aren’t hearing what Trump, Shapiro, Milo, Peterson are saying?
        Do you think no one noticed that thousands of children are being interned in a latter day gulag?

        Maybe people are angry precisely BECAUSE we are listening, and watching.

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          • If the question is, “what do we do if “this” isn’t working” then we just find another tactic.

            Much of what the civil rights movement did, failed to produce results, and each time they just switched tactics, until they finally won.

            Because there is, literally, no other option.

            When people urge us all to “just get along and treat each other with respect” they ignore that what we want, our wild outrageous demands, our shoot the moon goal, is exactly that.

            Trans and gay people want as their ultimate goal, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to get along with everyone.

            Immigrant advocates want immigrants to be treated with dignity and respect.

            Women want to be treated with dignity and respect, and equals.

            People of color want to stop being shot, and treated with dignity and respect.

            A total, unconditional victory for these groups is exactly what Kristin calls for. A world where everyone gets along and is treated with respect.

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            • With the partial exception of your last point this epitomizes the problem. ‘Dignity and respect’ are fleeting, nebulous words that mean different things to different people. There’s no universally agreed upon way to grant it, measure it, or decide when it has been sufficiently provided. For purposes of politics and policy they’re meaningless. You might as well say ‘I demand that we make everyone happy.’

              Conversely ‘I should not he denied access to this accommodation, or to this job because I am black’ or ‘I should not be denied the ability to serve in the military because I am gay’ are tangible and achievable policy goals.

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                • Equal treatment under the law is a very different concept from equal treatment within society. At least, I think it is, and I’d be shocked if most people agree with your position on it. I don’t think you even agree with it, truly. If we lived in a society with identical legal treatment for black and whites, but the n word was constantly used by whites as an insult to blacks, I doubt you’d be ok with it.

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                    • OK. There are a lot of conservatives who think that what liberals are really after is to make our way of thinking illegal. I’ve always considered that an exaggeration, but looking at your comment again, it has me wondering. If you don’t make a distinction between equality under the law and equality within culture, then do you see any problem with outlawing beliefs? I mean, you’re the one who equated the two, then said there was a difference, so I don’t know what your really think. Have you ever thought about it? I’d find it even scarier if you’d never considered the implication of your definition. I know that you and I don’t agree on much, so you may not take my advice on this, but you really should flesh out your original statement or you’ll leave a lot of things unanswered.

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                      • So what you’re saying is that pursuing equality before the law will necessarily “make our way of thinking illegal” or what exactly? Because I am relatively certain that, for example, allowing gays to marry has not prevented straights from marrying, nor has it prevented bigots from continuing to hate both gays and gay marriage.

                        As for my “original statement” – what are you referencing?

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                      • “OK. There are a lot of conservatives who think that what liberals are really after is to make our way of thinking illegal. ”

                        I mean, what “way of thinking” are you talking about here? After all, and I’m not comparing conservatives to supporters of slavery, but in 1885, I’m sure a lot of former slaveowners thought “liberals” were trying to make their way of thinking illegal as well. Nobody was tossed in jail, but society shamed and shut out those who wanted a return to pre-1865.

                        Or for a more recent example, we didn’t get majority support for interracial marriage until the late 80’s to early 90’s depending on the polling you look at. Do you think it was a bad thing that there was no voice on the three major networks the editorial voices of all the largest newspapers or magazines that Loving vs. Virginia was a bad idea?

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                        • Pinky,

                          Are you referring to some of the ideas coming out of the far left and militant social justice activists that approach equality from an epistemological basis far different than ours?

                          Yeah, that exists but it’s not a liberal position at all. It’s not even close to the kind of threat that someone like a Jordan Peterson makes it out to be.

                          Judging by Jesse’s and Sam’s responses, I’m not even sure if they’ve come across it and I doubt they’d call it representative of liberalism. I don’t.

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                • Sam Wilkinson: It seems entirely reasonable to define “dignity and respect” as equality before the law.

                  That just punts the problem to defining “equality before the law”.

                  In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

                  If white people can refuse to hire or rent to black people, and black people have the same right with respect to white people (and, just incidentally, white people control substantially all the jobs and rental accomodations), does that satisfy “equality before the law”?

                  If black people tend to get charged for possession of small quantities of marijuana, be defended by overworked public defenders who advise them to take the harsh plea deal being offered, spend close to the maximum available term in prison when convicted; and white people tend to get away with a warning, be offered much more generous plea deals if charged, be able to afford their own lawyers, and the odd time they are convicted tend to get a small fine or some community service hours – all entirely within the range of options laid out in the law – does that satisfy “equality before the law”?

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                  • True “equality before the law” would take the discretion out of the system completely. All charges must be tried (no pleas), and all convictions result in specific penalties. And the PD is as well funded as the DA.

                    What I think people really want is for a progressive justice system, when the better able a person is to defend themselves and recover from a conviction, the more serious the penalty (kind of like how Sweden sets traffic fines according to ability to pay, so the CEO speeding down the highway gets slapped with a 6 figure fine).

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                    • What you describe isn’t necessarily a progressive justice system. “Under the law, everyone pays 1% of their annual income for each speeding violation.” Still equality under the law, just by a different measure.

                      I also agree with Dragonfrog that “equality under the law” just kicks the can down the road. Eg., in one very limited understanding of the term, restricting marriage to only opposite sex partners is still “equality under the law” since gay people aren’t prevented from getting married.

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                      • The big question is: “How do we use the law to deal with inequality”… and the answer is we don’t really know.

                        I’m old enough to remember President Clinton signing into law a cranking up of the drug war… while surrounded by black politicians who thought the world of him for doing that. I remember forced busing.

                        I think it’s clear we’re NOT just one cheap policy or law away from some utopia (cranking up the WOD clearly wasn’t the solution). I don’t even think it’s clear that one horrifically expensive policy could fix equality. It’s possible we’re generations away.

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                        • I’m not sure any of that touches on the philosophical point Pinky was making since it seems pretty clear that (eg) differential sentencing for possession of rock and powder cocaine satisfies the equality under the law condition, yet those laws differentially apply to distinct groups of people. And whether Clinton had the support of black people when instituting policies which would negatively impact black people more than whites is a political issue, seems to me. The point I was getting at, tho, is that equality under the law isn’t a sufficient condition for the criminal justice system to be *not* discriminatory.

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                          • If discriminatory means something roughly like “making decisions on the basis of perceived group”, then equality under the law is a sufficient condition for the criminal justice system to be not discriminatory. Discrimination relates to the process, not the outcome.

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                          • …differential sentencing for possession of rock and powder cocaine satisfies the equality under the law condition, yet those laws differentially apply to distinct groups of people…

                            This was a feature, not a flaw, and it was the big reason Clinton had Black support. The law was supposed to “help” Blacks far more than Whites because their neighborhoods were suffering more.

                            …Whether Clinton had the support of black people when instituting policies which would negatively impact black people more than whites is a political issue…

                            The “political” point I’m making is the people at the time thought they were doing the right thing, and this was going to massively help the Black community. This should be a cause for concern in the context of various other “the State knows what to do on this issue” solutions.

                            equality under the law isn’t a sufficient condition for the criminal justice system to be *not* discriminatory.

                            Sure, agreed… but there’s a disconnect between “we’re going to make the criminal justice system not discriminatory” and “we’re going to use the power of the government to uplift people” and I strongly suspect the later is a bigger priority than the former.

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                            • Sure, agreed… but there’s a disconnect between “we’re going to make the criminal justice system not discriminatory” and “we’re going to use the power of the government to uplift people”

                              I don’t think you understand that point being made, Dark. It has nothing to do with the intentions motivating the enactment of any particular law. It’s that the concept of equality under the law, considered in isolation, can be satisfied for various laws even tho those laws have disparate impact on actual individuals based on race or gender or religious identification or etc.

                              A law passed banning

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      • I am on Chip’s side. Maybe people are angry because they are paying attention. Has that occurred to you?

        The problem with a lot of this “listening” begging is thus:

        1. It always seems to be a one-way street. There is never any pressure on the right-wing like Shapiro and Peterson to listen to their critics.

        2. You assume that listening should and/or will result in the left moderating and/or compromising.

        What compromise exists with someone like Miller or Shapiro? I can’t tell whether you have sympathy for the alt-right or you are just afraid of them and think they need to be appeased at all costs.

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        • I am on Chip’s side.

          Oh, I’ve no doubt of that!

          What compromise exists with someone like Miller or Shapiro? I can’t tell whether you have sympathy for the alt-right or you are just afraid of them and think they need to be appeased at all costs.

          It’s more that I see the ultimatum game like this:

          The choice is between
          A: A Workable Compromise
          B: Trump

          And it’s like an off-brand Hobson’s Choice. If I do not choose A, then I will get B.

          I can’t come up with anything for A.

          Therefore: I will get B.

          And arguments about how I shouldn’t have to get B are true enough, I suppose, but they’re not terribly interesting.

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                            • If I argued the mainstream liberal positions that were popular in 1992, how much of a modern conservative would I sound like?

                              If I sounded like Democratic presidential candidates sounded in 2008 on mainstream liberal positions, how much of a modern conservative would I sound like?

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                                • If they didn’t listen to me when I said that hiring Lena Dunham to run Hillary Clinton’s Instagram was a bad idea, I’m pretty sure they won’t listen to me on this.

                                  If there’s one piece of advice they need to follow it’s this one: Go back to Dean’s 50-State Solution. This means running DINOs in some states. This means running people who only agree with 80% of the platform.

                                  But, hey. Why should they listen to me? I’m just some guy on the ‘net. WE NEED TO DRUMPF TRUMP!

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                                  • But, hey. Why should they listen to me? I’m just some guy on the ‘net.

                                    That’s what I’m saying, Jaybird. You could make BANK with all these great tips and bits of advice. You broke the code! And you’re just GIVING it away. Amazing.

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                                    • Well, I’ll go back to my theory that Ordinary Times is a petri dish of modern Democratic thought. Like, stuff that comes here and flourishes will do well out in the wild. Stuff that wilts and dies will wilt and die out in the real world.

                                      If we can get some of the usual suspects to say “you know what… yeah… not only were mistakes made but we need to look at what they were and whether they could have been avoided and, get this, not do them again” then I have hope that the modern Democrats will do such a thing.

                                      As it is, I’m not seeing something like that happen.

                                      As far as I can tell, the only things that could cause such a thing to happen are unlikely to the point of not really being worth discussing.

                                      So I sit and I wait for November 6th. (Or maybe the 7th.)

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                                      • As near as i can tell the liberal bunch here is far whiter, wonkier and more male then the D’s as a whole. We aren’t a good random sample.

                                        Edit: we aren’t a random sample of course. But we aren’t a represetntive sample of the D’s. That is the more precise and pedantic point.

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                                      • Here’s a fun example.

                                        Not entirely sure why this is in LGBTQ Nation, but the author is clearly not writing this to convince veterans that they should welcome others to share their status, nor do I think the author has any real idea why veterans would object to doing so. It’s obviously written to (hopefully) appeal to a very specific audience. If you look in the comments, the author has a reply that shows that he is upset that a bunch of veterans have read his article and found it lacking.

                                        In the grand scheme, this idea is going nowhere. And it’s clearly one academic just tossing an idea out there, which academics are expected to do, and which progressive academics do a lot. They are progressive, pushing boundaries is what they do. And for those of us who have experienced the academy, we get this. In the pre-internet days, the tossing around of ideas like this would largely be confined to other academics and/or think tanks, etc. But these days, sites are always hungry for content and clicks, so if a professor wants to toss his idea into the wild like this, regardless of how viable it is, they are happy to oblige him/her.

                                        The problem with tossing something like this out into the wild is that everyone else doesn’t get that this is just what academics do. They take this way more seriously than anyone should*, and it quickly becomes the latest thing for culture warriors to hold up and blast the entirety of the left with.

                                        Should people stop floating ideas like this? Clearly the answer is no. But they could keep in mind that if they let it out into the wild, they run the risk of alienating moderates (I’ve had quite a few left leaning vets I know get seriously steamed about the suggestion in the article). One article alone probably doesn’t cause a massive shift, but when there is a new one out every week, it starts to add up. I mean, most people are some degree of conservative, even if they are liberal, everyone has things that are sacrosanct, and the progressive left just can’t help itself but to go after those things, to try and disrupt them.

                                        And again, I get it. Everyone here gets it. Everyone out there thinks it’s a serious effort at a policy proposal, and the culture warriors are happy to blast the message and make sure everyone thinks it’s a serious effort at a policy proposal.

                                        What to do about it? I have no clue. But it damages the brand and dilutes the messaging, and things that are really important and serious get lost in the noise over stupid shit like this.

                                        *It’s not like the guy is a Senator, or a federal judge, or Brass at the Pentagon. He’s a prof at a SLAC.

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                                          • I know! But people take it as a serious policy proposal, rather than the brain droppings of some professor. Like if the Dems take control of congress in November, this will be seriously floated as a piece of legislation.

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                                            • My view from the Left here is that it’s insanely unfair and basically unworkable that the broad center left has to be responsible for the writings of every professor without tenure who writes weird things on the Internet because said things are hyped by right-wing Facebook pages and FOX News, while the right can continue to have a basically open white supremacist in a position of power in the House and prominent members of the GOP aren’t even asked about him.

                                              Like, yes, if Maxine Waters says something dumb, I can at least see the argument why the wider Democratic Party is on the hook, but for the most part, most liberal attacks on conservatism are about ya’ know, the actions and words of people either running for election or elected officials, not MAGAAmerica1953 on Twitter.

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                                              • Especially since, if I read it correctly, the author of the wacky leftist article wants to have the definition of “veteran” expanded to include a grab bag of conflict mediators, diplomats, etc included.

                                                This, this, is the far extreme left that terrifies conservatives, and keeps them up at night and forces them to embrace Trump?

                                                Pol Pot: I suggest we exterminate anyone wearing eyeglasses; *nods of approval around the room*

                                                Stalin: Lets starve all the Ukranians; *murmurs of assent*

                                                Professor: Lets give a 10% discount on slushies to conflict mediators;

                                                *gasps of horror and disbelief*

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                                            • This is pretty much what I see on Youtube. Videos of people pointing out the worst the left has to offer, which is the lunatic fringe, hype it up to reflect the mainstream left and do it enough times before people believe it.

                                              Then again, with the fever swamps on the right, should anyone be surprised?

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                                                • The irony is, I see more people pissed about goofy shit like this than I do about, say, Elizabeth Warren and some of her less-than-workable ideas.

                                                  Did you hear about the new trendy idea coming out of the fever swamps?

                                                  Capitulation. Apparently I’m supposed to want to earn the solidarity and credibility of MAGA supporters that obviously don’t even lift.

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                                                  • At this point, my normal response of “But that’s not socialism/communism!” is so reflexive with the MAGA crowd that I have to actually check myself and make sure that it isn’t something that would be appropriately labeled as such.

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                                • God I hope the Dem brain trust is reading this thread, Jaybird. You’re giving out all this great political advice FOR FREE!

                                  Hey, don’t forget capitulation.

                                  We’re in the middle of a demographic rejection of the lib/Dem strategy of antagonism toward white, male, Christian, conservative flyover America. It’s time to quit indulging the status anxieties of a coalition in the middle of demographic decline and start getting on board with the new America.

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                          • “We” didn’t elect Trump. Americans opposed his election aggressively. But what compromise are you imagining here? It seems entirely fair to pursue an explanation as to what liberals are supposed to compromise to ensure an end to the election of candidates like Trump. So what are the specifics of the proposal?

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                          • I think I figured out what I hate about your commenting style lately. it’s the fact that in your world only Democrats and liberals have agency Republicans and conservatives just react to the terrible things we do to them.

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                        • What other options are there? To put that another way, how many lives/rights/freedoms would have to be sacrificed to satiate Trump’s supporters?

                          Capitulation, respectability politics, and tone policing. Thereby earning solidarity and credibility with the rest of America.

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            • On LGBT issues, here is one:

              Gay marriage is legal but christian bakers don’t have to bake a cake if they don’t want to.

              On migration:

              Amnesty for people already here and a gradual lowering of migrant quotas as well as tighter border security

              On Title IX:

              Greater protections for the accused but always refer to the police. If someone is accused of sexual assault, then it should be a police case, not an internal matter for the university.

              On farm subsidies:

              get rid of agricultural subsidies. This is not so much a compromise thing but a thing that both sides should dislike. The only reason why its still around is because the farm lobby is powerful and the yeoman farmer is still a cultural heroic archetype.

              On abortion:

              Something more like the european model where it is easily available for the first trimester, something almost impossible to get for the third (except in dire exigencies) and somewhat more variable on a state by state basis for the second trimester.

              On confederate statues:

              Keep the statues but put up a visible sign which makes clear that these people fought to maintain slavery.

              On climate change:

              Cap and trade, but also allow nuclear power

              On nature preservation/oil drilling

              Allow land to be available for purchase by private owners. Environmental groups which wish to prevent oil companies from drilling in a piece of land can buy that land. Oil companies just want profits and there are enough rich people who claim to be environmentally conscious (e.g. just about all the A-list actors in hollywood) who can come together to buy the land and put in a trust if they wanted to.

              Eminent Domain:

              This should be a bipartisan issue. I don’t even know why this is still around

              Police brutality:

              Body cameras with live mics, at least two per officer. It should be a fireable offence if both cameras happen to be off when a cop is on duty. Get rid of qualified immunity.

              Or, sharply curtail the activity/power of all public sector unions.

              Have I missed any particular issue?

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              • “Something more like the european model where it is easily available for the first trimester, something almost impossible to get for the third (except in dire exigencies) and somewhat more variable on a state by state basis for the second trimester.”

                This is not actually the European model.

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              • It’s easy to make a laundry list of compromise positions. What’s hard is to find someone on the other side of the table. It wasn’t that long ago, right after Obergfell, when social conservatives were whining that there should have been a compromise along the lines of civil unions, but the mean lib’ruls rammed gay marriage down their throats.
                I’m old enough to remember when that very compromise was being offered. There was no one (literally, there is always someone, but you know what I mean) on the anti-SSM side of the table who would take it.
                You can’t negotiate with yourself.

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          • Here are some things I saw today:

            A. Rich Lowry had an essay in The National Review saying that Atticus Finch was on the wrong side because he defended an alleged rapist. “Ha! Take that Libs!”

            B. Trump and company are revoking spousal diplomatic visas for same-sex diplomatic couples. Officially they say they are just trying to comply with U.S. law on same sex marriages and they will provide visas to same-sex marriage couples. However, the Trump admin knows this is disingenuous as an argument because many countries don’t recognize SSM or have home equivalents.

            A while ago Nikki Haley gave a speech to conservative high school students and told them that owning the libs might feel good but question the efficacy of it. The response from the students was “But we want to own the libs.”

            Your mode of compromise seems to be nothing but capitulation for whatever reason. That is no way to live Jaybird. How do you compromise with people who seem to exist in a perpetual adolescent miscreant mode?

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              • You keep on mentioning divorce without giving any information as to how it might work on a practical level. We don’t have a constitutional/legislative way to do it. How would we separate the states? Resources? Etc.

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                • I keep looking for compromises that might be possible and I can’t find anything. Even things that people are saying “All that happened was this very small thing! And they didn’t even want to do *THAT*!” isn’t understood as a potential compromise because it’s so very important to get people to do this thing that even its supporters agree is a very small thing.

                  So without compromise and without divorce… what remains on the table?

                  Upside: what appears to still be on the table seems to be something that could easily be described on a practical level.

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                  • I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. If one party’s operating principle is “the opposite of liberal, updated daily” then even if Democrats moved in their direction by offering compromises, the GOP would reject ’em and move their posts further to the right. Which is what we’re seeing from the “take no prisoners” approach to politics exhibited by the Trump WH and Mitch McConnell.

                    Add: I’m not suggesting this is a complete analysis, of course…

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                    • What said.

                      To put it back to something connected to our recent flair-up, way back in 2016, Orrin Hatch was asked about the SC vacancy. He basically answered, “well, obviously we won’t vote for anybody too liberal, but if Obama put up a reasonable pick like Merrick Garland, that couldn’t be argued.”

                      Well, Obama then nominated Merrick Garland and we know how that went.

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                      • It’s interesting that none of the liberals/Democrats on this board agree with your suggestion. :)

                        If there’s a divorce it will come from the side which “refuses to be compromised with”. Just like last time.

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                        • We haven’t come up with a single suggestion of mine that they’d agree would have made for a decent compromise!

                          If I paraphrase this as “we shouldn’t have done anything differently”, then would that be unfair?

                          And here we are.

                          There’s a great scene in No Country for Old Men where Chigurh asked “If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”

                          You shouldn’t have done anything differently and now we are here.

                          Tomorrow we will be further down this road.

                          I wonder if we will ever reach a point where, maybe, we wouldacouldashoulda done something, anything, differently.

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                            • We haven’t come up with a single suggestion of mine that they’d agree would have made for a decent compromise!

                              The ACA. The architecture of the ACA came from conservative think-tanks and was implemented by a Republican governor at the state level. The GOP moved the goalposts and attacked the Dems for being socialists.

                              Oooorrrrrr, Obama’s hands-off policy in Syria. He told McConnell he’d send in troops if they voted an authorization for the use of force. McConnell moved the goal posts and used Obama’s inaction to pillory his presidency for being soft on terrorism.

                              I think think there are lots of others. What I think you’re doing is focusing on issues like abortion and saying “show me the compromise there! Oh, you can’t? Divorce or War sonsabitches!”

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                          • Posted a comment that apparently was eaten. Basically, the ACA was a compromise. The architecture of the bill was developed by conservative think-tanks and it was implemented at the state level by a Republican governor. A bunch of GOP amendments were even included in the final bill! Once passed, the GOP moved the goalposts and accused the Dems of being socialists for implementing a conservative solution to healthcare issues.

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                            • In my armchair diagnosis this was a significant political failure of Obama. Many of his starting points of negotiation already contained compromise and things for both sides. This was problematic because the GOP base wanted bloody battles and victories to show. Had Obama started from the hard left there would have been plenty of victories to give the opposition. Plenty of compromise to go arround. For whatever reason he had to try to be above the fray and play the middle. Had he taken the role he needed to, instead of the one he wanted, a lot better policy would probably have been made. I think he would have ended up viewed much the same anyway. I have a hard time seeing how he could end up viewed any worse by the right or that the left would be of a different view because he compromised too much vs. gave it up in the beginning.

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                      • Dissolving the United States is not as simple as dissolving a marriage Jaybird and dissolving a marriage is rarely easy, even under the best of circumstances.

                        This is just something you keep raising without delving into the specifics. Like we can dissolve the United States one day and have Red Country and Blue Country and everything is copacetic.

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                              • And so here we are.

                                Well, that seems a bit disingenuous unless *you* are comfortable with access to abortion services or plan B pills varying between states. How big a swing across state lines would you tolerate?

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                                  • Compared to what?

                                    Compared to you’re *not* expressing an opinion about the issue. Jesse did. You criticized him for it. So I’m supposing you think choice *should* be a state level right which can vary wildly from state to state.

                                    If I’m right about that don’t say anything.

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                                            • If we’re conflating “people who voted for Trump” with “Trumpists”, I think I might have found part of the problem.

                                              But, sure. Hey! George, Dark, Kristen, and Pinky! Quit heightening contradictions! You should agree with the congressional democrats and democratic presidential candidates more! It’s a moral issue!

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                                              • A trumpist, at this point, is anyone who votes for him in 2020. Or votes the “Trump agenda” in 2018. The premise of your argument is that unless liberal Dem voters and politicians take your advice Trump will get re-elected in 2020 and more Trump’s will get elected after that (and so on until liberals maybe finally learn the lesson you’re so gracioiusly trying to teach them tonight).

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                                                    • Careful what you wish for. (Though I’m pretty sure that she won’t be 35 in 2020. Maybe we could run with “the Constitution doesn’t mean *THAT*… if you understood what the Founding Fathers intended… This is like Eowyn in Lord of the Rings. It’s about how men have to be 35. AOC is no man!”)

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                                                  • Ben Shapiro made an interesting comment on Bill Maher’s show. He said that he couldn’t vote for Trump last time because he didn’t believe he’d govern as a conservative, and he didn’t want to harm the institutions; but now he’s proven that he governs as a conservative, and the harm to the institutions is already done.

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                                                    • That is an interesting argument.

                                                      He’s certainly revealed a lot of various pathologies and hypocrisies. I’m not sure we’d be able to go back to the old way. Even if we impeached him and put Hillary Clinton in office tomorrow.

                                                      (For example: the old campaign promise about putting the embassy in Jerusalem? That’s… gone now. Even if we put it back in Tel Aviv, nobody would ever again be able to make that promise. Not to applause, anyway.)

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                                                    • the harm to the institutions is already done.

                                                      That is an exceptionally moronic justification. There’s still _plenty_ of institutions that Trump could damage.

                                                      He hasn’t, for example, damaged the military much yet. The post office still remains intact. The CIA seems mostly functional.

                                                      Trump has left large sections of the government alone, mostly because he doesn’t care about them and possibly literally doesn’t know they exist. But at any moment, he could notice them and wander over and start petting them, crushing them in his giant clumsy hands.

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                                                    • and the harm to the institutions is already done.

                                                      That seems like a self-serving rationale to me, one based on cynicism, but also descriptively (or predictably, I guess?) inaccurate: Trump has only just begun to damage/destroy our public and governmental institutions. Unless he’s checked, it will get much much worse.

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                                                • Or votes the “Trump agenda” in 2018.

                                                  I don’t think you’re getting how Kavanaugh changed things. Trump’s not nearly so important for 2018 as he was just two or three weeks ago.

                                                  In the post Kavanaugh world, the Trump-friendly Right and the anti-Trump Right are strongly motivated to go vote Republican in November, which really hadn’t been true until any point before now this cycle. Right this second, I wouldn’t give the D’s any better than 50% chance to take the House, 60-40 favorite tops.

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                                                  • I’m trying to think of a never-Trumper who supports Kavanaugh at this point. Kristol, Wittes, Tom Nichols, Rick Wilson, others, all think his nom should be pulled or that confirming him would be a disaster for the country and the GOP as well. Are never-Trumpers the same group as anti-Trump conservatives?

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                                                    • The change in support isn’t really coming from ardent anti-Trumpers (even though there are a couple of more minor, but people who have heavy Twitter presences who were previously NT but radicalized by Kavanaugh), but more from people who went from criticizing Trump and such a lot (your National Review, Commentary, etc.’s of the world) to fully backing Kavanaugh and more importantly, being extremely angry about the situation.

                                                      In short, the change isn’t really with the people who voted for Hillary or didn’t vote in 2016, but with the people who either voted for Gary Johnson because they live in DC or NY or whom voted for Trump with a lot of reservations in 2016.

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                                                    • I’m trying to think of a never-Trumper who supports Kavanaugh at this point. Kristol, Wittes, Tom Nichols, Rick Wilson, others, all think his nom should be pulled or that confirming him would be a disaster for the country and the GOP as well.

                                                      That’s actually a very interesting point. Kavanaugh has applied a very useful sorting mechanism here. In the post-Kavanaugh world, the ones you mention (plus Frum and Jennifer Rubin) aren’t opposed to Trump or even left the Republican Party, they have left the Right as a whole.

                                                      The anti-Trump Right, basically everybody associated with National Review, the Weekly Standard, a think tank, or any establishment media still identifiably on the Right is behind Kavanaugh, very strongly so in many cases.

                                                      In fact, they’re the ones who are pushing the nomination forward and will end up getting him confirmed. Trump has been mostly an afterthought.

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                                                      • Well, Kristol, Nichols, Frum and Rubin are the wort kind of political hacks, folks who lied thru their teeth defending the policies and politics of one of the most dishonest and disastrous presidencies of my lifetime. That anyone continues to take anything they say seriously is mystifying and certainly their continued prominence is part of the crisis of faith in institutions which Trump has capitalized on. Kavanaugh is one of them, tho, in temperarment, judgment, dishonesty and Republican Party political hackery, so their rejection of him is at least a bit surprising.

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                                                        • Well, Kristol, Nichols, Frum and Rubin are the wort kind of political hacks, folks who lied thru their teeth defending the policies and politics of one of the most dishonest and disastrous presidencies of my lifetime. That anyone continues to take anything they say seriously is mystifying and certainly their continued prominence is part of the crisis of faith in institutions which Trump has capitalized on.

                                                          Yeah, who couldn’t see that coming? They know they dislike Trump, but they really haven’t thought through anything else.

                                                          Basically, the Left will tolerate them as long as their political activism consists of maneuvering to impeach Trump, and nothing else. A few on the Left will even applaud them for that, but not many.

                                                          My beef with them is that they are small faction in our polity, with a larger presence in the opinion-making industry. And they refuse to accept the democratic accountability that governs (or at least ought to govern) any faction in a democracy. They somehow have elevated themselves as being above the crassness of electoral politics, which is bullshit. If they were to act as though they were governed by the legitimacy of democratic politics, I’d still disagree with them probably but I’d have a lot more respect for them than I do.

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                                                • I’m not sure that “racist” works anymore.

                                                  You know that thing where you’re watching two people arguing about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and the one guy brings up the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and then calls the other one an anti-Semite?

                                                  I think something similar has been happening with “racist”.

                                                  (Which is not to say that racism doesn’t exist nor that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist. Of course it does and it ought to be fought against. But the use of it as a rhetorical tactic has blunted.)

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                          • Actually i think the problem with federalism is that few people actually believe in it.

                            Oh and depending on the issue, civil rights kind of stuff, it may actually be Wrong. So it sort of depends on the issue whether morality comes into it. But most people are fair weather federalists at best on tough issues.

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                          • I have suggested “Federalism For Real This Time” in the past but have been told that this is not on the table due to it being immoral.

                            The division of America is not along bizarre geographical lines, or this or that side of rivers. It’s between rural, exurbs, suburbs, and cities. Federalism that end at the state border might be what was written in the Constitution, but it’s inapplicable today, when mass communication and economic integration make distances and geographical obstacles go away, and only culture and economics remain.

                            The only Federalism that would work would be a Federalism not of states, but of counties, or metropolitan areas, or similar divisions, all significantly smaller than states. But the same people that want the Federal Government to get away from X are the ones that want to make sure to impose X within the state, no matter how much half of the state hates X.

                            Só, the Texas government walks over Texas cities just the same as the California government tyrannizes Orange County or the CA northern counties.

                            Divorce is the same issue. Should the South plus Texas secede, do you see Atlanta, Miami, Raleigh, Charlotte, Houston, New Orleans, etc. happily accepting a political program written by McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz? I would bet you would more easily have a civil war within the South plus Texas, that between Red and Blue states

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                            • Orange Coutny has been trending blue for a while now and the GOP is more or less a rump party in CA but great point.*

                              *It has been pointed out that if you were to break CA up into three states, chances are they would all be Democratic.

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                            • There is some difference between regions – a California Democrat is different from an Wyoming Democrat – although that’s likely to diminish over time. But don’t discount the sorting that would take place if states actually had greater say. If you drew a line down the map and said that the laws would actually be allowed to be different, you’d find that people would sort themselves naturally.

                              There are two complicating factors, though. One, we don’t actually want the world we claim we do, because we don’t recognize the benefits of the other side’s positions. Two, let’s be honest, liberal governance makes places worse, leading to liberals moving out in favor of better-run areas, where they then vote for the bad policies that bring down the next area.